China’s Iraq Investments and its growing Foothold in the Middle East
Iraq has emerged as China’s number one trading partner in the region and third-largest oil supplier, right after Saudi Arabia and Russia. Its energy reserves and strategic location — near the Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz — prove critical for the BRI.
Iraq requires a massive $88 billion for its post-Daesh reconstruction needs — an ample opportunity for Beijing to increase its visibility through investment and construction. While bilateral trade topped $30 billion in 2018, relations were enhanced under former Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul Mahdi, who described the ties as poised for a ‘quantum leap’ during Beijing’s 2019 visit. In the first half of 2021, trade volume between the two countries exceeded $16 billion.
China’s regional strategy aims to establish a geographical framework that will create a new balancing force against the West, led by China and Iran.